During the election, teachers around the US struggled with issues arising in their classrooms — new kinds of bullying, confusion between fact and fiction, fear. And in the 100 days since President Donald Trump was inaugurated, those topics only continued to generate challenges for teachers. The organization USC Shoah Foundation heard those concerns and developed an initiative called “100 Days to Inspire Respect” to support learning through Trump’s first 100 days in office.
All of the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation’s educational resources about the Armenian Genocide can now be found on the IWitness website that launched on April 17, one week before the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
There are several parallel stories told in the documentary “Finding Oscar.” The main one lays out, with traditional means, the horrific circumstances of a 1982 atrocity perpetrated by Guatemalan army commandos against the residents of a small Guatemalan village. Taking its name from the location of the raid, the so-called Dos Erres massacre left 250 civilians dead — many of them unceremoniously dumped down a well, with some thrown in while still alive — by a squad of elite military operatives, known as Kaibiles. The Kaibiles had gone in search of guerrillas they suspected of having recently ambushed government soldiers during the country’s long-running civil war with rural leftist rebels.
It’s really easy to mess up a film project about the Holocaust. The wrong tone, the wrong direction, and it can all go horribly awry. Add cutting-edge technology operated by unskilled hands to a topic as devastating as survivor testimony, and you could have a disaster. Fortunately, the VR film The Last Goodbye, which debuted at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, gets it right.
In 'The Last Goodbye' at the Tribeca Virtual Arcade this month, the viewer wears a virtual-reality headset as a survivor recounts his ordeal at Majdanek. It’s an experience more authentic than 'Shoah,' its producer says.
I finally had a chance to sample the VR and MR experiences offered by New York's prescient Tribeca Film Festival, which added the immersive Arcade last year, and has guided it skillfully into the one of the world's greatest showcases of VR art, installations and storytelling. Like their film festival, some featured experiences will have a long and prosperous life, some may end up in museums, and some will be once-in-lifetime experiences, site specific experiments without a business model. If you're in New York and at all interested in the transformative potential of Virtual Reality, Tribeca has assembled a extremely well curated sampling of the state consumer VR experiences coming to HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Samsung VR.
You've read about the Holocaust in books and seen it portrayed in films. But it's another experience entirely to walk through the site of a concentration camp in virtual reality, led by a survivor who lost his entire family there. The Last Goodbye, which debuts at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, follows Pinchas Gutter as he makes his final pilgrimage to Majdanek, a former Nazi Germany extermination camp in occupied Poland. It's a trip he's made many times, but this one has a specific purpose: to capture his account of the Holocaust so we never forget that it actually happened.
Pinchas Gutter has returned to Majdanek at least a dozen times, but this trip is his final one to the onetime Nazi concentration camp. His first was one he was 11, when he was taken to Majdanek; now he’s 85 years old, and this is the last time he’ll come here to tell people what the Nazis did to his family. As he rides up to the shuttered camp in the backseat of a chauffeured sedan, he talks about why he’s told his story so many times. Without that living, breathing reminder, the Holocaust becomes easy to forget—or even deny. Without personal accounts, Gutter says, it’s hard for people to accept its atrocities as “the gospel truth.”
A twisty, protracted fight for justice is deftly traced in “Finding Oscar,” an absorbing, if grim, documentary from producer-director Ryan Suffern (who co-wrote with Mark Monroe) and executive producer Steven Spielberg.
In the spring of 2011, David Benson, found himself walking with his grandmother, Holocaust survivor Sidonia Lax, down the “black path” that once led to the crematorium at the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland. It was Lax’s fifth trip with the annual International March of the Living as a survivor, with the Builders of Jewish Education (BJE) teen delegation, his first as part of a large family contingent with the BJE Los Angeles adult group.
Last summer, I watched the disturbingly iconic reel of black-and-white footage that revealed the shameful truth of Bergen-Belsen.
The grainy footage, which many of us have seen, was taken at the concentration camp in Germany, a few days after the liberation on April 15, 1945. It offered one of the first glimpses into the hell that was the Holocaust. Under the armed command of liberators from the British Army, SS men are seen unloading the skeletal corpses of the Jews they’d murdered from the back of a pickup truck, and carrying them to a mass grave.
Historian Julia Werner discovered this set of photos in the Jewish Museum in Rendsburg, Germany, and they constitute one of the only visual records we have of the construction of an open-air ghetto. Taken on June 16, 1940, by German soldier Wilhelm Hansen, the 83 images (a selection of which can be seen below) track the forced movement of the Jewish population of Kutno, Poland, from their homes to the grounds of an abandoned sugar factory, where they were ordered to set up camp.
There were audible gasps in the White House press room Tuesday when spokesman Sean Spicer appeared to forget about the Holocaust in asserting that the Syrian military's use of sarin gas on civilians exceeded the atrocities of Nazi Germany.
With Spicer's credibility already strained, opposition Democrats and others began calling for the White House press secretary to be removed from his position.
In the small Guatemalan village of Dos Erres in 1982, 250 people were killed by government soldiers. The documentary, "Finding Oscar," traces the story of one of the few survivors who didn't even know his own history until recently. It also explores the U.S. government's role in the Guatemalan civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996.
More than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, but USC’s expanded collection of wartime artifacts may soon be able to offer new historical insights.
David and Andrea Stanley donated hundreds of items to USC Libraries and the USC Shoah Foundation’s Center for Advanced Genocide Research. The objects came from Andrea Stanley’s father Harry Wolff, Jr., an American Jewish soldier who served in Europe during the war, and includes numerous paper documents that depict Wolff’s wartime experiences.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the USC Shoah Foundation honored filmmaker George Lucas and his investment executive-wife, Mellody Hobson, for their commitment to education, diversity and humanitarian efforts during the Ambassadors for Humanity Gala at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland center in Hollywood.